Olympics 2020 Martial Arts: Top 5 Team GB Medallists

In honour of Tokyo 2020 and Great Britain’s Martial Arts Teams we take a look at 5 of GB’s martial arts medallists who have made an impact now and hopefully shall continue to do so for many more Olympics ahead. Find out our pick of athletes who brought notable performances to the mat in our countdown: Olympics 2020 Martial Arts: Top 5 Team GB Medallists! (in descending order)

5. Bradly Sinden

Martial art: Taekwondo
Born: 19th September, 1998
Tokyo 2020 medal: Silver

Sinden showed promise from young as he won gold at the 2015 European Junior Championships, and received his first senior medal at the 2017 World Championships achieving a bronze medal in the 63kg category.

Later in 2017, Sinden would receive bronze in the World Taekwondo Grand Prix, where he’s been a serial medallist throughout his career, obtaining 3 bronze and 3 silver medals. In 2019 Sinden would breakthrough in Manchester to take gold at the World Championships, setting him up for his medal performance at the Olympics.

Debuting in the Olympics at the age of 22, Bradly Sinden took Olympic silver in the men’s Taekwondo 68kg final, coming up short against Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Rashitov.  Sinden would defeat New Zealand’s Tom Burns in a dominant 53-8 victory as he progressed to the Quarterfinals. There he took on Turkish competitor Hakan Reçber in another decisive win taking a 39-19 triumph.

In the Semi-Finals, Sinden would take on former Olympic Gold medallist and multiple-time world champion China’s Zhao Shuai in a close 33-25 win, progressing Sinden to the final.

In the Final, Sinden would take on the wonderkid, the 19 year-old Uzbekistani Ulugbek Rashitov, the former Military World Games Champion and multiple Asian Junior Champion who would defeat Sinden in a close 34-29 fight as Sinden would receive his Olympic silver medal.

4. Lauren Williams

Martial art: Taekwondo
Born: 25th February, 1999
Tokyo 2020 medal: Silver

The 22 year-old Welsh athlete has had a fruitful career from a young age.

William’s won her first major title aged 15 at the 2014 World Junior Championships, replicating her triumph in 2016.

She received her first senior medal at the 2016 European Championships obtaining a gold medal in the 67kg category. Shortly after, Williams won gold again at the 2017 Grand Prix in London. Throughout her career, Williams has amassed 7 gold medals, which prepared her well for her silver medal victory at Tokyo 2020.

Another debuting Olympian at the age of 22, she was able to score silver in the Women’s 67kg Taekwondo final, losing narrowly to Matea Jelić.

In the round of 16, Williams took on a debuting Olympian in Malia Paseka from Tonga, as Williams won via TKO sending her flying into the Quarter Finals.

The Quarter Finals featured the Egyptian and 2011 African Games Gold medallist, and Rio 2016 Bronze medallist, Hedaya Malak. The fight would be a very close contest with Williams nabbing a 13-12 victory.

This win set up a Semi-Final match up with 2017 World Champion, Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi, where Williams would win 24-18, blasting her into the Olympic Final against the Croatian, Matea Jelić.

With 10 seconds left, Williams had a 3-point lead over the Croatian, but two late head kicks would steal Olympic gold from Williams which went into Jelić’s hands. Despite the late defeat, Williams still accomplished a highly respectable Olympic silver.

3. Chelsie Giles

Martial art: Judo
Born: 25th January, 1997
Tokyo 2020 medal: Bronze

The 24 year-old Olympian first competed in the 2017 European Judo Championships in Warsaw but didn’t win her first medal until the 2018 IJF Grand Prix – taking home the silver medal.

Giles’ winning streak continued over the years, securing 5 bronze, and 2 silver medals in her still-early career. Giles struck gold at the IJF Grand Slam in Tel Aviv, making it her highest-ranking achievement to date. Her success in Tel Aviv set Giles up for her bronze medal win at this year’s Olympics.

Giles, in her first Olympic games, scored the honour of achieving Team GB’s first medal of Tokyo 2020 securing the bronze medal in the Women’s 52kg Judo division.

In the round of 32, Giles took on Macedonian Arbresha Rexhepi and would take an 11-0 win, progressing her to the round of 16 against the Moroccan Soumiya Iraoui in a 10-0 victory, sending Giles into the Quarterfinals.

Unfortunately, Giles would come up short against Japanese competitor Uta Abe – however she wouldn’t go away that easily as she won her repechage against former European Champion and Bronze medallist from the 2012 Olympics, Belgian Charline Van Snick. Giles came out on top with a 10-0 triumph taking her to the bronze medal match up.

Meeting Giles in the bronze medal match was the Swiss, Fabienne Kocher, who was the Bronze medallist in the 2021 World Championships; however, Giles would prevent the same from happening at the Olympics as she stole the bronze in a 10-0 medalling win.

2. Benjamin Whittaker

Martial art: Boxing
Born: 6th June, 1997
Tokyo 2020 medal: Silver

After almost turning professional, Whittaker decided to chase his Olympic dreams at Tokyo 2020 coming home with a shining silver medal in the Men’s Light Heavyweight Final as he was edged out by the Cuban, Arlen Lopez who made it double Olympic gold, retaining his Rio 2016 gold medal.

The 24-year-old was first selected to represent England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and later in the year took gold in the Light Heavyweight Men’s 2018 European Union Amateur Boxing Championships.

In June 2019, at the European Games, Whittaker scored the silver medal in the Light Heavyweight division, and in September 2019 would medal again in Yekaterinburg, Russia, clinching a bronze medal at the World Championships.

In the Round of 32, Whittaker took on the 2018 South American Games Gold medallist, the Colombian, Jorge Vivas who he would breeze by in 4 rounds to 1 – the win sending Whittaker to the round of 16.

In the round of 16, Whittaker whitewashed the Egyptian, Abdelrahman Oraby, the 2015 African Championships and African Games Silver medallist, 5 rounds to 0, sending Whittaker sailing through to the Quarter Finals.

Meeting Whittaker in the Quarter-Finals would be Brazil’s, Keno Machado 2018 Youth Olympic Games Gold medallist and 2019 Pan American Games Silver medallist where the Brazilian would take 2 rounds from Whittaker but it wouldn’t be enough as Whittaker was able to take the remaining 3 and make it to the Semi-Finals.

The Semi-Finals would hold Russian Imam Khataev, where Whittaker would secure a swift 4-1 victory and smash his way into the Olympic Final.

In the Final, Whittaker would meet his toughest test of the tournament taking on Rio 2016 Middleweight Olympic Gold medallist, 2015 Amateur World Champion, and 2009 World Junior Champion, Arlen López representing Cuba. He would defeat Whittaker 4 rounds to 1, giving Whittaker an Olympic silver medal at his Games debut.

1. Galal Yafai

Martial art: Boxing
Born: 11th December, 1992
Tokyo 2020 medal: Gold 

The 28 year-old comes from a family of fighters with his brothers, former World Champion Kal Yafai and European Champion Gamal Yafai. It’s no wonder that Galal was able to make it to the Olympic final and achieve Olympic gold after defeating Filipino, Carlo Paalam in the Men’s Flyweight Final.

In the round of 32, Yafai would take out the Armenian Koryun Soghomonyan via a referee stoppage taking Yafai to the round of 16 against Zambia’s Patrick Chinyemba, with Yafai taking the contest – winning 3 of the 5 rounds and steamrolling into the Quarter-Finals.

In the Quarter-Final, Yafai would take on the 2017 Amateur World Champion, Cuba’s Yosvany Veitía and would take a dominant 4 rounds to 1 victory blasting him into the Semi-Finals.

In the Semi-Final, Yafai would face 2019 World Champion Bronze medallist, Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov in a close fight, with Yafai edging 3 of the 5 rounds to cement himself a spot in the Olympic Final.

Waiting in the Final was the number 12-ranked amateur flyweight, Filipino Carlo Paalam, against who Yafai would realize his dream of Olympic gold in a prevailing 4 rounds to 1, a win that crowned Yafai Olympic Champion, something neither of his champion brothers have yet been able to achieve.

After losing in the round of 16 in Rio 2016, Yafai was ready for revenge and would get his first medal at the 2017 European Championships, gaining the Light Flyweight silver medal, losing to Vasilii Egorovin in the final.

In 2018, Yafai would medal in the Commonwealth Games, taking gold in the Light Flyweight division as he defeated Amit Panghal to take the top spot.

In 2019 Yafai would move up to the Flyweight division and would gain his first medal of the division at the European Games, taking bronze. That would be his last medal before the reaching the pinnacle of his career thus far, taking GOLD at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics!

So, there we have it folks, 5 of the best Team GB Martial Arts Medallists from this Year’s Games!

Which of the above contests did you see live as it was airing? What did you think about Team GB’s martial artists and their performances at Tokyo 2020? Who do you think is the king of Team GB combat? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Joe Petrozzi

Joe Petrozzi is currently studying Sports and Exercise Science in his final year at Staffordshire University. He is interested in all types of martial arts combat, and has been since a young age after his dad introduced him to MMA. He is specifically engrossed with the psychology of being a fighter and the mind of a combat athlete.

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